Blue, yellow or purple? From December 2013 Bulgarians, Romanians and their employers will no longer have to worry about the work cards they are on and the ensuing restrictions. This is because on this date they will gain the unrestricted right to live and work in the UK. Unrestricted, meaning that they will have the same rights as their fellow members of the European Economic Area (EEA). In order to live in an EEA member state they must be exercising their ‘treaty rights’, either as a worker, self-sufficient person or jobseeker or as a student or self-employed person.
Also on 1 July 2013 Croatia will be joining the European Union and will have freedom of movement throughout the EEA. However, the UKBA has released its Statement of Intent, which contains stringent transitional restrictions on Croatians seeking work in the UK, similar to those that were applied to Bulgarians and Romanians.
Although Croatian nationals will have unrestricted access to the UK for up to three months, those intending to work in the UK must gain authorisation from the UKBA to do so. As the UKBA put it:
"It is the Government’s intention that the transitional restrictions applied to Croatian nationals after 1 July 2013 will provide Croatian nationals with the same degree of access to the labour market as they enjoyed under the Immigration Rules when the Treaty on Accession was signed.”
Certain categories will be exempt. The final list has yet to be confirmed but is likely to include:
- Croatian nationals who are self-employed;
- Croatian nationals who, on the date of accession, have been legally working for an uninterrupted period of twelve months ending on that date; and
- those who have been working legally for an uninterrupted period of twelve months falling partly or wholly after the date of accession.
Basically, the UKBA is trying to apply the Points-Based System to Croatian nationals once they join the European Union. So if a Croatian national meets the requirements of skilled economic migrants under Tiers 2 and 5, they will be granted permission to work. In their Statement of Intent, the UKBA also say that if Croatian nationals meet the notoriously difficult criteria of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category or the previous Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) category of the Immigration Rules they will be granted permission to work.
This is just a brief summary of the Statement of Intent. If you would like more information regarding how the transitional requirements will affect Croatian nationals post 1 July 2013, then please see the UKBA’s official Statement of Intent.